Free Range Dogs on the Bay

Tobey enjoying a glorious day at Crissy Field

As much fun as it is to stroll the neighborhood with your best four-legged friend, some human guardians like to take long, unattached walks with their dogs. And most dogs appreciate the opportunity to frolic, sniff, and run off leash.

Though much of the Bay shoreline is sensitive habitat that’s home to endangered and threatened species, there are several gorgeous, expansive places around the Bay (many are former landfills) that welcome well-behaved dogs and their humans off leash.

When Save The Bay was founded, less than six miles of shoreline was accessible to the public. Now more than 300 miles connect residents to parks and open space along the shoreline. Dogs and their owners share these great places with birders, bikers, families, and others so it’s up to all of us to work together to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the shoreline.  Fido wants you to observe the following responsible dog guardian tips so he’ll continue to be welcome on the Bay.

1.    If an area has a sign that tells you to leash your dog, there’s probably sensitive wildlife nearby, so please comply.
2.    Pet waste can impact water quality (and it’s no fun to step in!) Pick up after your pet.
3.    Bring lots of treats to make sure your dog comes when called.
4.    Dogs love to chase wildlife but it’s not so much fun for the pursued. Leash up if you see wildlife nearby.

Crissy Field: A former airfield, this San Francisco jewel is the place for dogs who love to run in the surf. It boasts gorgeous views of the Golden Gate and is a favorite of Tobey, our Executive Director’s retriever.

Carquinez Strait: Try the easy Carquinez Loop trail for the views. Along the shoreline you can see the industrial remnants of a grain port and brickworks. If you have the time, you might want to visit the nearby town of Port Costa for a little taste of small town life in the midst of the bustling Bay Area.

Albany Bulb:  A former dump for the city of Albany, this park provides plenty of room to roam, a beach for swimming, as well as interesting found art sculptures for the humans to enjoy.

b and p swimming
Bodhi and Penny getting ready for a dip

Cesar Chavez Park at Shoreline Regional Park: Located near the Berkeley Marina and adjacent to Sylvia McLaughlin State Park (recently renamed from Eastshore State Park), the large, grassy, off-leash area boasts fabulous views of the Bay and the San Francisco skyline. Cesar Chavez Park is a favorite of my dog Flynn. Make sure you keep your dog leashed along the shoreline as this park is home to burrowing owls and other wildlife.

Pt. Isabel: If your dog is a swimmer, this is one of the rare places along the water where it’s ok for dogs to run free. Bonus points for the self-serve dog wash on site. Bodhi and Penny, companions to Save The Bay’s Major Gifts Manager, Joo Eun Lee, can’t wait to jump right in.

Miller Knox Regional Shoreline: The undeveloped areas of this park offer trails open to off-leash dogs and great views of the water, Mt. Tam, and the San Francisco skyline. Some areas of the park are on leash only.

Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline: Another former dump, this park near San Leandro and the Oakland Airport offers a large grassy off-leash area as well as a lovely shoreline walk where your dog must be leashed.